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Jewish World Review Dec. 3, 2001 /18 Kislev 5762

Don Feder

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Consumer Reports

West haunted by Balkans blunder

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- AS the war in Afghanistan goes on, the ghost of interventions past sits in a courtroom in The Hague.

America can drop tons of explosives and send in the Marines to fight Taliban terrorism. But when the Serbs confronted a similar menace, they were demonized and bombed for 78 days, and had a province wrested from them and presented to Osama bin Laden's Balkan brigade.

Slobodan Milosevic has been charged with complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. Before the travesty is over, he will doubtless be convicted of running the rail line to Auschwitz.

The former Yugoslav president is a thug whose brutality played into the terrorists' hands. Even so, the trial of Milosevic before a U.N. tribunal is intended to justify our Balkans blunder and discourage serious consideration of its consequences.

If what happened to Kosovo Albanians and Bosnian Moslems was genocide, what of the treatment of Orthodox Serbs? After NATO's air war, 200,000 were driven from Kosovo. Most who remain cower behind barbed-wire barricades in Mitrovica.

Altogether, 2 million Serbs were expelled from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, and 240 of their churches were destroyed. When this happens to anyone else, it's called ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide.

The tragedy has its roots in the early 1990s, when the West decided Bosnians and Croatians were entitled to their own states. Fine, said Belgrade, but why should 2 million Serbs living there be forcibly expatriated? Who would protect their rights -- the Bosnian Moslems who committed genocide against Serbs in World War II?

When local Serbs tried to secede from the secessionist states, they were reviled as racists who hated all non-Serbs and lived to rape and plunder.

After Bosnia and Croatia came Kosovo. Albanian Moslems became a majority in Serbia's ancient heartland through illegal immigration. The started when the Kosovo Liberation Army (on the State Department's terrorist list as late as 1998) began murdering Serb policemen.

Milosevic overreacted. At Rambouillet, the-President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave him an ultimatum (surrender of sovereignty over all of Yugoslavia) no self-respecting nation could accept. After the Gulf War, Washington was determined to prove its human-rights commitment by coming to the aid of persecuted Moslems. The result was the creation of a second de facto Islamic republic in Europe.

In October, NATO's secretary general, Lord Robertson, warned that the Balkans must not become another "black hole" of terrorism, like Afghanistan. He was referring to the operations of our erstwhile allies.

On Oct. 3, the Los Angeles Times reported, "Hundreds of foreign Islamic extremists who became Bosnian citizens after battling Serbian and Croatian forces present a potential security threat to Europe and the United States."

Bin Laden, who's been heavily involved in the region since 1992, was reportedly presented with a Bosnian passport for services rendered. The same international legion that's fighting with the Taliban earlier served the Islamic cause in Bosnia and Kosovo.

In his Islamic Declaration, former Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (celebrated in the West as a multiculturalist) proclaimed, "There can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions."

The Kosovo "freedom fighters" (as Sen. Joe Lieberman once called them) are equally grateful for Western support. In one of the Al Qaeda camps overrun in Afghanistan, Americans found an entry application from a Kosovo Albanian that read: "I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb forces. ... I recommend suicide operations against parks like Disney."

After the subjugation of Kosovo, Moslems moved on Macedonia. Despite a NATO-brokered ceasefire, on Nov. 11 terrorists killed three Macedonian policemen who were trying to guard a mass grave said to hold the remains of civilians killed by the guerrillas.

Is the Albanian area of Macedonia destined to become Europe's third Islamic republic?

The circus surrounding Milosevic's trial is meant to distract us from the reality of our Balkans' misadventure -- when we went to war not against terrorism, but in its behalf.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2001, Creators Syndicate